By Dan L. Ward and Rob Tripp with Bill Maki
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This collection of articles is a resource to help readers get “the right person in the right job.” Through 25 essays, writers present different aspects of strategic workforce planning—practical steps, metrics and measurement issues, forecasts, theories, and more.
Articles about current practices in strategic workforce planning (SWP) cover strategies for businesses in high-growth markets; tips for public-sector professionals interested in workforce planning; a case study of how Boeing uses SWP; lessons learned from Electronic Data Systems, especially the company’s advice about knowing when it’s truly time to use SWP; and an examination of SWP in China. One of the articles highlights the risk management aspects of SWP and gives advice about integrating it with HR and business strategies.
Readers new to workforce planning can find detailed help, including both simplified and advanced workforce planning flowcharts to use.
A section on analytics looks at how a host of data types—statistics, operations research, employee surveys, financial data and much more—play crucial roles in both informing workforce planning and measuring how SWP is working. An article explaining “talent analytics” outlines how employers can use data about employees to “link people decisions to organizational performance.” The article draws on the real-world experiences of service-intensive employers and includes the idea of an “analytical HR” approach that integrates individual performance measurement with specific organizational goals.
Another essay in Positioned is a primer on the fundamentals of workforce analytics, laying out what they forecast, outlining the components of a workforce analytics program, showing samples of workforce gaps (the difference between workforce demand and supply) and more.
Articles focusing on the future include a look at how HR professionals will work with their three principal targets (individuals, organizations and leadership) and how HR can upgrade the quality of organizational leadership. An essay on developments in management software and statistical analysis systems shows how those tools will give HR new abilities in risk management, learning and development, talent management, and more.
HR professionals are constantly asked to help organizations get the most out of other people, but what about the HR professional’s own development? An article advises HR and other leaders on tactics for taking responsibility for their own careers and getting more leadership development.
The Virtual Manager
By Kevin Sheridan
Career Press, 2012
List price: $15.99
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How does the manager of a virtual team build trust when teammates don’t see each other in person?
What qualities should candidates for virtual teams possess, and how do those qualities differ from those needed in the office?
How does the manager respond when employees working in the office complain that it’s unfair for someone else to work at home?
Those challenges and many more confront the managers of virtual teams, and author Kevin Sheridan’s The Virtual Manager guides leaders through management advice tailored specifically for organizations using virtual teams.
Sheridan shows how offering the option to work in virtual teams brings benefits: Virtual teams can attract and retain top performers, cut costs while improving productivity, reduce absenteeism, and provide better customer service.
But there are still challenges. Sheridan looks at the following issues:
- How do you create trust? This section covers how employee autonomy builds trust, the need for some in-person meetings and tips on how to hire the right people to manage virtual teams.
- What qualities make the best virtual employees? Learn why you need workers who are self-starters, self-motivated, self-disciplined and self-sufficient. This chapter details how each of these characteristics makes an employee a better virtual worker.
- How do you select candidates for virtual jobs? The book teaches how to write a job description tailored to a virtual job, outlines where to post these job openings, and walks managers through the steps for screening candidates and conducting a job interview specifically for a virtual job.
- How do you keep virtual workers engaged? Sheridan looks at the key factors that drive engagement and applies them to virtual jobs. For instance, satisfaction with one’s co-workers is a major contributor to employee engagement. Managers of virtual teams need to prevent team members from feeling detached and distant from each other. Video chats, phone calls (in place of e-mails), “job buddies” who work closely on a project and other tools can help employees who don’t see each other still feel connected.
- How do you train, manage and evaluate people you seldom see? Managers learn techniques including using “virtual tracking” systems to share work products and using video or phone meetings for frequent status reports.
Other challenges addressed in the book: handling jealousy from employees working in the office; managing workloads so that work is consistently balanced between employees working remotely and those working in the office; understanding the legal implications of using virtual workers, such as the need to track hours and monitor computers; and much more.
Win-Win Performance Appraisals
By Lawrence Holpp
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Performance appraisals too often are uncomfortable meetings reluctantly attended and quickly dispatched to the “Glad that’s over” file. But appraisals can and should be key tools for both the employer and the employee, and can be productive instead of painful.
Author Lawrence Holpp outlines how to tie appraisals to the organization’s strategy and use the employee’s experience, skills and goals to benefit both the employee and the organization.
Readers need to learn how well their organizations currently handle performance appraisal and whether the existing performance management process really connects to larger goals or is isolated from larger business objectives.
Holpp covers the roles of both manager and employee in deciding on objectives for employees. Setting objectives also requires managers to draw on corporate goals, work-unit objectives, position descriptions, the employee’s earlier appraisals, peer opinions such as 360-degree appraisals and more. He provides a checklist of criteria for effective objectives.
Readers can improve the existing performance appraisal forms they’re required to use. With examples and samples, Holpp demonstrates how to turn standard sections found on most forms into more useful tools. Readers learn to turn goals and competencies into objectives for the employee and how to rate employees’ potential as well as their past performance.
Holpp then walks managers through the appraisal process, now that they have their employees’ objectives and their improved forms in hand.
He gives managers tips on how to prepare before an evaluation meeting and how to help employees prepare. Readers learn to root out their own hidden biases when considering employees’ performance. Holpp also coaches readers on writing specific narratives to flesh out numeric ratings and on asking questions that are open-ended and don’t direct the employee to a specific desired answer.
One chapter focuses on what should happen during the appraisal meeting, from setting the employee at ease to asking questions, listening effectively and handling tensions.
Other topics Holpp covers include:
- Legal issues in performance management. The book discusses how laws affect performance appraisals and how to avoid issues of harassment, discrimination, defamation, negligence and more.
- Follow-up after an appraisal. This stage is where the manager and employee meet again to cover performance improvement, development and new objectives. Holpp provides techniques to help managers unearth why employees have specific problems and how to address them. He also covers post-appraisal tools ranging from rewards and recognition to discipline.
- Continuous performance management. Real performance management goes on all the time, not just during one appraisal meeting, and managers can diagnose performance problems continuously, coach employees and communicate expectations clearly.
Hiring for Attitude
By Mark Murphy
List price: $28
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Why do new hires fail? Maybe they lack technical competence. But according to author Mark Murphy, research shows that only 11 percent of new-hire failures are due to lack of technical competence on the hire’s part.
So what accounts for the rest of the failures? The answer: Varying problems that Murphy says all come down to one thing: attitude.
The new hires who didn’t last were the ones who didn’t fit in with their employers’ cultures. They weren’t motivated. They weren’t coachable. Or their temperaments didn’t match those of co-workers. Whatever the specifics, Murphy notes, in the end “attitude, not skill, is the top predictor of a new hire’s success or failure.”
In Hiring for Attitude, Murphy urges employers and HR professionals to recruit the best performers who have both the skills and the attitude to stay on the job and excel. Murphy draws on his work as a consultant to guide readers through steps including these:
- Identify your organization’s unique culture and the attitudes that work best in that culture. Learn how to interview CEOs and other leaders in the organization about what makes a high or low performer. Tips include how to get specifics out of these interviews and how to record what you find.
- Revamp your hiring interview questions and throw out the standard ones.
Four types of interview questions—including the commonly asked “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses” questions—should go out the window, Murphy writes.
Other questions to dump are “oddball” questions that shed no light on work behaviors (“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”); questions about hypothetical work situations, because those questions make it easy for a candidate to tell the interviewer what the interviewer wants to hear; and even behavioral questions (“Tell me about a time when you had to…”), because they tip off the candidate about what you’re seeking.
- Create interview questions to reveal attitude. Use the information gleaned earlier during talks with executives and others to build better interview questions. Murphy lays out a four-step process for writing questions and gives examples from real interviews and actual “wrong attitude” and “right attitude” answers from candidates.
- Write “answer guidelines” so you know what good or bad answers sound like before you ask the questions. Many resources talk about how to write interview questions but they don’t teach how to create an answer key so you can give candidates consistent scores, Murphy says. He shows how to draft sample answers and provides an example of an organization’s attitude-based questions and answer guidelines.
- Score answers. Readers get a downloadable rating form for job candidates’ answers, as well as an explanation of why they should use a numeric rating scale instead of “gut feelings” about an answer. The book shows how to merge existing job interview rating systems with Murphy’s new methods. Murphy also shows how to analyze the text of candidates’ answers—their use of verb tense and voice, qualifiers, pronouns and more—to reveal hidden truths about their attitudes.
- Recruit for attitude. Learn a new recruiting formula: The probability of high performers applying to your firm is equal to the attraction they feel, combined with the urgency they feel to leave their current job, but minus any suspicions they have about your authenticity. Murphy demonstrates how to let potential candidates know about the specific behaviors you want (and they want to provide), how to influence candidates to consider leaving their current employers, and how to get rid of turn-offs, especially in job ads, that make candidates wary about your organization.
The Talent Management Handbook, Second Edition
Edited by Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R. Berger
List price: $60
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This text helps managers and HR professionals design talent management systems, build corporate cultures with a focus on talent, tailor compensation to promote keeping talented employees and much more. Readers can use The Talent Management Handbook as a textbook to study the whole topic or as a resource to dip into for help with specific issues as needed.
Authors include dozens of writers from global talent management firms and organizations.
Editors Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R. Berger open the book with essays about creating a talent management program, performance appraisals, and succession and career planning. Topics include designing appraisals, appraising executives, choosing the right performance appraisal and integrating succession planning with career planning.
A section on coaching, training and development covers a range of issues. Readers learn about 360-degree feedback and coaching as development tools. One chapter makes the case for measuring and quantifying talent management results so HR can prove its value to the organization. Authors also look at how to coach leaders to increase organizations’ social responsibility.
A third section focuses on linking compensation to talent management programs through long-term incentives. These essays also examine how to keep top talent on board and how to improve employee engagement through rewards systems.
The relationship between talent management and organizational culture gets attention in a dozen essays ranging from how onboarding relates to talent management, to the role ethics plays in talent management. Other topics include making diversity a tool for competitive advantage and building a “reservoir” of high-performing women.
Nuts and bolts of workforce planning and talent analysis are tools HR and others need for talent management. Chapters look at how to tie a talent strategy to a business strategy, how to use workforce planning and how line managers play a role in talent planning.
What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Job-Hunting Online, 6th Edition
By Mark Emery Bolles, Richard Nelson Bolles
Ten Speed Press, 2011
List price: $12.99
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What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Job-Hunting Online has everything from practical advice (“turn the TV off”) to detailed insights on the inner workings of job boards and social media—all of which are useful for people looking for a job. There is also great advice on preparing resumes. So, if a job seeker follows all the steps and methods laid out in the book, they will be successful. Right? My experience of hiring individuals at a large company conflicts, in a few respects, with the ways the authors recommend prospective candidates approach me and my recruiters.
Authors Mark Emery Bolles and Richard Nelson Bolles quote a statistic from the Wall Street Journal that someone unemployed spends 40 minutes a day job hunting and 200 minutes watching TV. “So,” they write, “box up your remote and ship it back to yourself a month later.” While the advice is tongue-in-cheek, it lays out the fact that if you are searching for a job, you should treat the search as if it were a job.
Other suggestions, such as researching companies and writing thank-you notes are great tips for every job seeker. I can’t say that I have ever given someone a job because they sent a thank-you note, but I certainly put more thought into that person’s interest. And, going into the interview talking about the company, based on research, always helps.
The book lays out 10 steps for landing a job and quotes success rates resulting from each step. However, I question the success rates cited; furthermore, let us look at a couple of statements more carefully:
- I would agree with the authors that the success of the major job boards has been fading the past few years, but these boards still yield significant results. In fact, 38 percent of UPS’s overall hires come from job boards, and that rate soars to 65 percent for professional hires.
- I disagree with the statement “Since it usually costs employers some serious coin to list on most job boards, employers will only put their job listings here when they are unable to fill a position.” I can’t speak for other employers, but UPS lists all openings on the job boards that we subscribe to. However, I agree that job seekers shouldn’t just use one method; they should try all, or as many of the 10 methods listed as they can.
The authors go into great detail about preparing your resume, providing great advice about multiple versions. I heartily agree that when responding to job postings, applicants should:
- Update their resumes for each posting.
- Address how their experience or education (or lack thereof) relates to the listing. Most recruiters will move past resumes that don’t.
The authors do a good job explaining keywords and the inner workings of online vehicles such as LinkedIn profiles. Today, these are used like resumes. The authors mention that LinkedIn is a business networking site and not a job hunting site, but I disagree. LinkedIn sells recruiting seat licenses that allow recruiters to search LinkedIn in a detailed way. Most of the candidates UPS finds on LinkedIn are through these searches and not from the job postings on the site. Approximately 10 percent of our professional hires come from LinkedIn, and I see that proportion increasing.
Overall, this book gives the average job seeker more than enough tools to find a job. It gives an advanced job seeker, including those in the HR profession, more details into the process that they may not be aware of. So, if you know someone looking for a job, I would purchase this book for him or her—and confiscate their remote. They will thank you later.
Reviewed by Matt Lavery, managing director of talent acquisition, UPS, Atlanta.
Managing the Unmanageable
By Anne Loehr and Jezra Kaye
Career Press, 2011
List price: $14.99
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The complainer who finds a flaw in everything. The egomaniac focused only on what benefits her. The do-gooder so involved with helping others that he doesn’t get his own work done. The wallflower who doesn’t contribute. The AWOL who just isn’t there.
Recognize them? They’re the “unmanageable employees,” along with other slackers and jokers and others who drag down productivity. Managing the Unmanageable authors Anne Loehr and Jezra Kaye walk managers and supervisors through each step of identifying and creating plans for working with these employees one on one and helping them become productive contributors.
Loehr and Kaye offer steps to take managers through observing, evaluating, diagnosing, communicating about and resolving challenges with unmanageable employees. Then, chapter by chapter, they show how those steps and tools work with each type of unmanageable employee.
The book includes a “What’s it worth?” worksheet that lets managers calculate how much an unmanageable employee costs the organization—including the costs of the manager’s own time dealing with the person, the cost of the employee’s lost productivity, and the costs of lost deadlines and projects that go undeveloped.
If the manager decides keeping the employee is worthwhile, there are tools to get the salvage operation started.
Tools include key questions to ask at the outset to determine what the problem is and how it affects the employee’s productivity. Managers get tips on how to talk with the employee constructively and neutrally. Then managers look at whether the employee’s goals and responsibilities are clear enough.
The coaching process comes next. The authors encourage managers to take on the role of coach even if they’re wary of it, and they provide a “coaching primer” to turn managers into coaches. And finally, the manager-coach and the employee determine the employee’s new accountability for his own improvement.
As chapters outline ways to change the slacker, the egomaniac, the wallflower and others, Loehr and Kaye introduce tools such as:
- Sample responses managers can use when faced with employees’ excuses, complaints or criticisms. These “Hot Tips” charts arm managers with specific replies for a host of possible statements and questions from difficult employees.
- A “goals diagnostic chart” to help determine whether the employee’s goals are clear enough.
- Examples of words that acknowledge employees’ contributions more effectively, especially when dealing with wallflower employees.
- Examples of and advice about asking good coaching questions that make the employee think and respond.
- An accountability tracking chart to help the employee and manager set benchmark dates for deliverables, so everyone knows whether the employee is taking responsibility for assigned tasks.